SDCC19: ‘Picard’ Panel Reveals How It Is A New Kind Of Star Trek Show

Continuing our detailed coverage of the Star Trek Universe panel at San Diego Comic-Con, we turn to the biggest part, which focused on the upcoming series Star Trek: Picard. Yesterday we reported some highlights along with the new Star Trek Picard trailer, but the panel had more details and fun moments with Sir Patrick Stewart, the producers, and new cast and surprise guest stars Jeri Ryan, Brent Spiner, and Jonathan Del Arco.

Patrick Stewart’s FOMO lead to Picard, works closely with writers

Sir Patrick Stewart was greeted by the capacity Hall H crowd like a rock star. After apologizing he couldn’t bring the dog from Star Trek: Picard (named “Number One,” real name Dinero), he spoke about why, after years of saying no to return to the role he last played in 2002 (Star Trek Nemesis), he finally said yes. The actor noted it was partially due to a fear of missing out on what the creative team had in mind:

As the subject matter of this new series became clearer and clearer to me and I began to meet our incredibly distinguished writing team and to attend the sessions with them, I knew that something unusual was going to happen and I wanted to be part of it. To imagine something like this might go ahead and I wouldn’t be there would have been too defeatist, and I am very, very happy to be here.

During the panel, executive producer and showrunner Michael Chabon discussed how he and the creative team work closely with Stewart (who is also an executive producer):

Patrick has been a collaborator with the writers from the beginning, but it didn’t just stop in the early days when we were just trying to figure the show out, and it didn’t stop with subsequent later moments in the writer room when Patrick came and helped us critique and review and shape the story, it is an ongoing collaboration. I have learned to trust Patrick’s judgment of the character of Jean-Luc Picard on a daily basis, on a line-by-line basis sometimes, implicitly.

Executive producer Heather Kadin also chimed in:

We all watched [Star Trek: The Next Generation] and have our opinion of what was happening in the show, but Patrick obviously had lived it from the inside out. Having him to bring his perspective to what Jean-Luc would do or not do or what would he like to see as an evolution of this character, that was invaluable. Not only did he not want to do what he had done on TNG, we and he did not want to do what we had done on Discovery. I feel that the world we have painted there is very specific and is unique to that. Hopefully, everyone is going to watch and read what Kirsten [Beyer], Akiva [Goldsman], Michael [Chabon], and Alex [Kurtzman] are writing and feel this is it’s own more lyrical, more grounded, more dramatic at times piece, and respect it as its own thing.

Sir Patrick Stewart introduced at Star Trek: Picard panel with Alex Kurtzman and Isa Briones looking on, at San Diego Comic-Con 2019

A “new kind of Star Trek show”

Executive producer Alex Kurtzman outlined that since its conception, Picard was envisioned as something different that Star Trek: Discovery and other Star Trek shows:

[Picard] is entirely different [than Discovery and other Trek shows]. It all started with Patrick, actually. When we went to him he was reticent for all the right reasons, mostly because he didn’t want to repeat what he had already done, which he had done perfectly, so why do that again? We had several conversations and he really challenged us, challenged us beautifully. It forced us to think outside the box and yet it also forced is to look at what is important about the box as it existed for people who loved Next Gen. What is it about this great captain that people loved so much? So, Kirsten [Beyer], and Michael [Chabon], and Akiva [Goldsman], and Patrick, and James Duff all sat down we asked lots of what Trek meant to each of us and what Trek meant to Patrick and from that, these really interesting storylines began to emerge about Picard.

Executive producer Akiva Goldsman also weighed in on how

We pointedly wanted to not make a sequel to Next Gen. Tonally it is a little bit of a hybrid. You will see it is slower, more gentle, more lyrical. It is certainly more character-based. It also takes on the same thing The Original Series took on, that Next Gen took on, that Discovery takes on, which is a hope for a future that is many ways better than the world we live in today. Star Trek remains aspirational. What we get to do, which DS9 got to do a little bit and Discovery got to do, is tell serialized stories and in serialized storytelling the characters can evolve in a way that makes it unique. So, we think it is a new kind of Star Trek show made by a lot of people who love the old kinds of Star Trek shows.

Executive producers Michael Chabon and Alex Kurtzman at Star Trek: Picard panel, San Diego Comic-Con 2019

Picard still represents the best ideals but is facing darker times

There wasn’t a lot to say about the plot for the new show, but Kurtzman did talk about where Picard is in his life:

Picard is at a point where he is questioning many of the choices he has made, but he is also very certain about many of the choices he has made. I think it has allowed us to shake the character up in ways that give you new things to play, while also honoring and respecting everything that has been done, so well.

Alex also discussed how this fit with Picard as the “philosopher captain”:

Picard represents the ideal captain, not just as a philosopher, but as a human being, who thinks first and foremost about the human spirit and its consequences over time. The choices that he makes are not just choices he makes in a vacuum. He is the leader we all want, and boy do we need that now more than ever…Every line that Picard says has to represent a philosophy and an ideal and idealism.

Kurtzman also detailed how the new show will differ (and not differ) from Star Trek: The Next Generation:

TNG reflected – I guess – a more innocent time. It was telling great stories and complicated stories and modern parables. But we live in a much, much more complicated and darker time now. And Trek at its best has always been a mirror that has reflected the world that we live in. So, Picard, I think in the best way, is the one who is still standing up for what matters. He is still standing up for the ideals that we believe in. Age has not changed his resolve, it has just changed the circumstances of his life. This is being made by people who love TNG. We are not seeking to reinvent it. We are not seeking to say ours is better or we are doing the dark version of TNG. None of that is true. But Picard has to soul search, and to soul search you need a dark night of the soul to come out the other side lighter and brighter. And in order to make the world brighter, he has to face that part of himself. He is still fighting for all the things he would have fought for in TNG, but because the circumstances of his life have changed, he doesn’t have the same resources. So, he has to dig even deeper into himself in order to get there. And I think why he remains such and aspiration and amazing captain. Because we all want to believe that the best part of us would emerge, and that is Jean-Luc Picard.

Alex Kurtzman and Patrick Stewart at Star Trek: Picard panel, San Diego Comic-Con 2019

Spiner, Ryan, and Del Arco are as surprised as fans to be part of ‘Picard’

Perhaps the biggest surprise in the Star Trek: Picard trailer released on Saturday was the appearance of two Trek veterans: Brent Spiner (confirmed to be playing Data) and Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine). They both made a surprise guest appearance, joining the panel after the trailer was shown, along with Jonathan Del Arco (Hugh).

When asked what it was like to be a part of Star Trek again, in his usual fashion Spiner started off joking, by saying:

When I first heard there was going to be this Star Trek: Picard I called the producers and said: do you have anybody for the role of Picard yet? And they hung up on me. I spoke to Patrick and he said there was a possibility, and would you think about coming on the show in some way, appearing on the show. And I said I don’t think I can do that, and he started crying, and I couldn’t take it.

But then he got serious and told the actual story:

I spoke to the powers that be on this show – it is an incredible bunch of writers and producers. The possibility of standing next to Patrick on a set again was just more than I could say no to. And I had to consider the fans as well. To think that this was going to happen and there was a possibility that I might be there, there was no way I could refuse that. So, here we are.

Jeri Ryan talked about how she never thought it would happen until it did:

Over a year ago sitting at the Hollywood Bowl, I was with Johnny [Del Arco] and one of the creators, who is a good friend of ours as well, and he – after about four glasses of champagne – decided that would be a good time to bring it up. He said, “Here is what I am thinking.” And I said that could be fun, but didn’t think anything was going to come of it. And then I kept hearing it from other creatives from the show over the course of the year and I was mentioned again and I thought it was cool, but never thought it was going to happen. And then cut to here we are. It is pretty surreal.

Jonathan Del Arco shared Ryan’s skepticism and also needed some persuasion from her to prepare for his Borg makeup:

My experience was the same [as Jeri]. We are buds, and the Borg share everything. It’s a collective! That conversation began and we were like: is it going to happen? Cut to the realization that it was going to happen and that I would have to have a life-mask, which is basically poured cement onto your face. And I said to Jeri: I can’t do it. I can’t do the job. I can’t do the life mask, because I am majorly claustrophobic. She said: honey, take a pill and I’ll drive you. And she stayed with me for five hours like a mama Borg and made sure I was all right. It was 100% worth it. We can’t talk about the design of the makeup but James McKinnon who is the head makeup artist and was just nominated for an Emmy [for Discovery]. So, we did it. It happened, but I didn’t believe it until I was on set, to be honest. Oh my god. Getting to work with Patrick again, that was worth the life mask.

Brent Spiner, Jeri Ryan and Jonathan Del Arco at Star Trek: Picard Panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2019

Stewart’s Trek veteran joy will soon include Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis

Patrick Stewart talked about what it is like to have these Trek veterans return:

You have got to get your laughing gear in place, that is for sure. We have more fun than should really be allowed in a really expensive series.

Chabon confirmed what Patrick had to say and revealed there are more vets coming to guest star this week:

Having observed it, the joy on Patrick’s face on the days we have had returning cast members and in particular someone who is part of Star Trek: Picard not only having directed two episodes, but will be returning along with Marina Sirtis, who is Jonathan Frakes. And seeing Jonathan and Patrick together, I would go to the set just so I could see the smiles on their faces, and the fun. Jonathan Frakes brings joy and light wherever he goes, but it seemed to me Patrick that you seemed so filled with joy.

Star Trek: Picard showrunner Michael Chabon flanked by Akiva Goldsman and Alex Kurtzman at San Diego Comic-Con 2019

New cast introduces themselves and their characters

Joining Sir Patrick Stewart for Star Trek: Picard is an entirely new cast of series regulars. And while Sir Patrick made it clear he loves having his old friends drop by, he has been impressed with how fast his new cast has developed chemistry:

Yes, everything that Michael has said [about Trek vets on set] is true. When I come face to face with Brent, with Jeri, with Jonathan and it will be very soon again with Jonathan and Marina as well. But, we have here sitting [indicates the new cast] a new team, a new crew if you like, in the sense of a cast in this show. I am astonished and grateful for the speed with which this has become a team, a cohesive unit working together. I thought it would take the whole of the first season and we still have about three episodes to go and we are already cemented together. That makes me happy and proud.

Showrunner Michael Chabon spoke briefly about the challenge of casting for the show, saying:

We knew we had to have a cast that was worthy of and could stand up to an actor as incredibly gifted as Patrick Stewart, and we got that.

Patrick Stewart with Star Trek: Picard co-stars Isa Briones and Santiago Cabrerra at San Diego Comic-Con 2019

The members of the cast were under strict limits as to what they could say about their roles but some did offer some insights. Here is what they had to say…

Alison Pill (Dr. Agnes Jurati):

I’m a researcher…I get to play somebody who is deeply confused as to her place in the world who has been dreaming of something happening forever and has been treading water for a long time waiting for it. I think the really interesting thing about this cast as a whole is everyone is broken in terms of their character, in very interesting ways and different to a lot of what we have seen. It’s just a lot of lonely sad sacks.

Michelle Hurd (Raffi Musiker):

Raffi is a delicious character to bring to life. She has a previously unrelated relationship with part of Picard’s past. She too struggles with some demons. I think that is one of the things that is so excited and delicious about working on this project, it is so layered. There is so much to jump into.

Santiago Cabrera (Cristobal ‘Chris’ Rios):

I play Chris Rios who is ex-Starfleet and also someone with some inner demons. Something in his past has created a hard shell around this man. Hence, he is quite reluctant to help Picard when he meets him.

Isa Briones (Dahj):

[Dahj] is a young woman entering a very new and exciting chapter of her life, yet a horrible tragedy strikes in her life. And that is what send her on a journey to find Picard looking for answers and looking for help.

Star Trek: Picard cast members Isa Briones, Santiago Cabrerra and Michelle Hurd at San Diego Comic-Con 2019

The final two cast members on stage didn’t actually talk about their roles but did talk about their connections to Star Trek…

Evan Evangora (Elnor):

I watched Star Trek from such a young age. To meet Patrick and work with one of your idols on a daily basis is absolutely incredible. I wake up every day happy going to work, and I leave happy. Thank you for the opportunity and it has been a pleasure working with you Patrick.

Harry Treadaway (Narek):

My best friend who I went with after school every night, his dad was a massive Trekkie and had every episode on VHS…So, yes [I know Star Trek].

Star Trek: Picard cast members Alison Pill, Harry Treadway, and Evan Evagora at San Diego Comic-Con 2019

Watch Stewart choke up talking about shooting last TNG scene

During the Q&A portion of the panel, Patrick Stewart had any enduring memories of his time on Star Trek: The Next Generation and he got emotional recalling his final scene with Jonathan Frakes during the shooting of Star Trek Nemesis. You can watch the moment below in a video released by CBS.

CBS has also released the full video for the Picard panel, which you can watch on YouTube.

Watch new cast talk characters and Chabon

CBS also released some quick videos talking to the cast backstage at SDCC, including one where they talk about their new characters.

They also talk about what it is like to work with Pulitzer Prize-winning author and big Trekkie Michael Chabon.

Watch the SDCC trailer for ‘Picard’

In case you missed it, here is the trailer again. Versions for the USA, Canada, and the rest of the world are below.

More SDCC 2019

Check out the rest of our San Diego Comic-Con 2019 coverage, and stay tuned to TrekMovie for more from the Star Trek Universe panel and beyond.

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I’m really looking forward to the episodes of PICARD which Jonathan Frakes directed.

“New Eden” was fantastic. It felt like a Star trek movie.

Frakes directing Pat Stewart and Brent again ?

First time since Insurrection!

Afterburn

I’ll never get this. Fanboyism at it’s finest. Frakes is a fine, journeyman director with no distinct style of his own (not to pick on him, there is a lot value to a guy like him)– but absolutely nothing special. It’s like Trekkies just like seeing his name in the credits.

Denny C

I would have to disagree with that assessment. His work on First Contact stands out and showed a familiarity with the source material, how to pace a comedic scene, stage action sequences and deliver unexpected scares when needed.

He knows how to tell a story and work with actors which is why his efforts on Discovery stand over the past two seasons.

PEB

I wouldn’t go as far as to say his episodes of Discovery were the best directed but it was great to see what Frakes can do with a bigger budget. He always mentioned budget constraints on commentary tracks. That said, he does know these characters and with working with the showrunners and getting a feel for where they are now, I’m sure it can only help with bringing out great performances. But I see what Afterburn means, sometimes SOME fans act like he’s the best and only choice to direct because of his status as a series vet.

Denny C

I think for most it’s just exciting to see Frakes involved both in front and behind the camera. As someone familiar with Star Trek as an actor and a director he’s going to have a different approach to the material.

Afterburn

You’re right. It showed he’s a competent director. Just like i said.

You cite First Contact, but his work on Insurrection was as banal and unimpressive as it gets.
Still he’s fine, but i’d rather see some really strong, standout directors who can do something special with the material, instead of just someone who knows how to stage action, pace comedy, and is familiar the source material.

That is about as base level as you can get when looking for a director. Again, fine enough, I just don’t get the over-the-top love he gets, with excitement for his work behind the camera when its announced, or even worse, people who ask for him to return.

Mind boggling.

Michael Hall

That Frakes directed both FIRST CONTACT and INSURRECTION really doesn’t prove much about his talents, any more than Francis Coppola’s having directed both APOCALYPSE NOW and JACK. Besides which, I find both Trek movies to over-and-under-rated, anyhow.

Mind boggling, really?

Denny C

That kind of nails it, really. The source material drives a lot of what a director can do.

Afterburn

Totally agreed. All they proved is that he was fairly competent and wouldn’t make a fool of himself behind the camera. Just proves my point. He’s fine, and nothing to get excited about other than “OMG! Squee! Riker directed this episode!”

Michael Hall

As TV directors go, he’s much better than “fairly competent.”

Afterburn

Strongly disagree. Go watch other premium series like The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Better Call Saul, Stranger Things, The Handmaiden’s Tale, American Horror Story, and you’ll find the average episode leaps and bounds above anything Frakes is capable of. Some of the most beautifully shot, directed, and edited television ever seen.

JF a fairly competent, journeyman director who belongs doing standard network dramas. His only value to Trek as a director is to get fanboys like you to watch.

My biggest gripe production-wise on DSC is that the direction doesn’t stack up against other premium shows like the ones above.

Vulcan Soul

“My biggest gripe production-wise on DSC is that the direction doesn’t stack up against other premium shows like the ones above.”

Agreed, but surely Frakes isn’t the bottom barrel of Discovery though? Especially Season 2 had some awfully paced and disjointed episodes which were clearly attributable to rookie directing, and those weren’t Frakes…

Afterburn

Did I say bottom of the barrel? I said average. And that’s what I see from DSC directors: average. So again, that’s why I don’t get the obsession with having him onboard– it’s clearly just fanboyism.

Denny C

The problem with Insurrection wasn’t Frakes. It was one of the weaker entries of the series with a story that shouldn’t have greenlit for a feature film.

Michael Hall

I disagree as well. He’s no Coppola or Scorcese, God knows, but Frakes distinguished himself very early on as a director with both his energetic camera movements and his ability to get heartfelt performances from his castmates. I always look forward to seeing his name on the credits as a director, for reasons that have nothing to do with fanboyism.

Afterburn

lol I mean okay, everyone has their own opinion, but if you think he’s distinguished for “energetic camera movement” I really don’t know what to tell you.

And sorry to disagree, but your excitement has EVERYTHING to do with fanboyism. I doubt anyone outside of Trek fans gets excited when they see Frakes directing an episode of anything.

There’s more to directing than visual flair. The direction of the performances is just as important, if not moreso, and Frakes-directed episodes tend to have better-than-normal performances. Discovery feels like a different, better show when he’s directed it; to me, at least.

Michael Hall

Likewise, I really don’t care that you don’t think all that much of Frakes’ work. So far as I’m concerned, he proved his bona fides straight out of the gate with “The Offspring,” and has rarely disappointed with subsequent installments. Nor did I mention anything about “excitement” — that’s simply a product of your own, overheated imagination. Very little to do with Trek gets me all that excited nowadays, though I continue to watch and (occasionally) enjoy it very much. It would take the signing of a major directorial talent (Quentin Tarantino?) to get me anything like excited, but having to put words in the mouth of the people you’re debating is a sure sign that the argument you’re making doesn’t carry much weight.

Tiger2

Well said Michael Hall and agreed! Frakes is a great director and why everyone always gets so excited when they know he’s behind the camera of an episode or film. Remember tons of former Trek actors have directed Star Trek including most of the captains like Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks and (less said the better) William Shatner but very few gets the fanfare Frakes does for a reason.

TG47

Precisely, Tiger2.

Trek has provided some of its actors the opportunity to direct, but a small few have taken their knowledge of the source material to the next step of drawing out exceptional performances.

Roxann Dawson’s direction of The Andorian Incident (in Enterprise’s first season) was another stand out episode. The script, the makeup and Jeffery Coombs performance combined with her direction marked the beginning a restoration of the Andorians to Trek storytelling.

Afterburn

You all can, go ahead and cheer for mediocrity. Seems to be appropriate for the times in which we live.

Tiger2

Sigh

Tiger2

Yes Roxann Dawson is another amazing director and directed her first feature. I really hope she comes back and do more Trek as well.

Afterburn

Roxann Dawson, another solid, competent director. Hope she continues to get work. Don’t mind if she directs DSC or some other Trek show, but i’m also not clamoring for her. I don’t get the same fangasm from seeing her name in the credits that others do.

A34

If Frakes was so great, he wouldn’t be limited to just star trek. He only gets work because trek fan love nostalgia.

TG47

He’s admitted that he was effectively black balled after Thunderbirds was a box office disaster.

But the mistakes seem to have been in not pushing his weight in some of the early production and casting decisions.

He’s said that a lead actor was cast to didn’t really want to do it, and who has publicly admitted it. His failure was having too much faith in his strength of drawing out strong performances.

A34

Agreed…

alphantrion

One other point you have forgotten to mention is that Frakes is an efficient director and this is very appreciated by both producers and actors. His nickname is “two-takes Frakes” because he doesn’t play around all day with the scenes. He comes, he films everything in two takes at most and leaves. Very efficient working style if you ask me. I also think it is not very fair to compare him with more high-brow people directing television or streaming today. I mean people like David Fincher are directing in streaming today, can you really compare Frakes with Fincher? No. Frakes is from the school of more old school TV directing, but I think he did manage to effectively changed his style to modern TV directing as well, otherwise he would have never found work again in this business. I personally think you are being a little too perfectionist on this issue.

Afterburn

Alpha, you make a PERFECT point. He’s competent, and most of all, efficient. Trek as a franchise is clearly looking to save money by hiring efficient directors. Kudos for them for finding efficient directors who are also good, but i’m disappointed they won’t lay out the money for someone like Fincher. Would love to see an acclaimed director take on an episode of Trek.

That’s the biggest reason I want QT to take a stab at a Trek film.

Again, i’ve repeated this but seems to be that commenters are willfully ignoring it: I don’t think Frakes is a bad director, or that DSC should not use him. Just that if you ask me, the only reason fans REALLY get excited to see him direct is because he was Riker. If they credited him under a pseudonym would anyone notice or care?

ML31

Far be it for me to agree with Afterburn but in this case I do. I feel like a lot of people are pleased to see Frakes directing Trek is because he was Riker and he directed one of the better TNG features. I don’t think he’s bad. He seems to be quite competant and efficient and he obviously knows his stuff. But I don’t see him as better than most other TV directors out there. Being a former actor possibly helps him relate to his actors. That might be a plus for him. But otherwise, is he really that much better than most others?

alphantrion

I definitely agree with you on Tarantino, Star Trek needs that out of the comfort zone film to really punch it back into the limelight. People, especially Trekkies, like the familiar, but I think sometimes Trek needs to get out of this familiarity by getting interesting and unusual names like Tarantino on board.

Vulcan Soul

I hope among the many things they said this would be totally different from Discovery (and God do I hope that’s true!) the directors will be allowed to bring a more “old school” approach to the camera and refrain from spicing up vacuousness in script with rollercoaster cinematography….

TG47

There were still noticeable lens effects going on.

I’ve never understood why ‘cool to directors’ is currently viewed as more valuable than ‘avoiding breaking the 4th wall’, but there definitely is a film school set of values that is not aligned with the audience’s wish for an immersive experience.

Afterburn

No one here is advocating for “rollercoaster cinematography.” Cinematography is only one element of a director’s oversight anyway. I’d like to see an acclaimed director take on an episode because they do more daring things with staging, camerawork, the way a scene flows, the way a story moves from scene to scene, that stand out more than a merely competent, efficient director like Frakes.

Not to say he doesn’t do good work, or isn’t capable at times of some standout moments, but overall his work is completely forgettable.

alphantrion

I don’t think most acclaimed directors would find the work on Trek compelling though I am afraid to say. Tarantino wants to do it because he is a huge fan, but if they are not fans, I don’t think a guy like Fincher or the younger Nolan brother from Westworld would do Trek. Maybe Whedon might try to take a stab at it or Jon Favreau.

Afterburn

The idea of the optimistic Picard inhabiting a world that is increasingly cynical is fascinating. An older version of the character, nearing the supposed end of his days, trying to find hope in darker times. Very much looking forward to this.

ADDENDUM: what scene is Patrick referring to? I don’t recall a scene in AGT between he and Riker. Was it deleted? From a different episode? Generations? Nemesis?

J_Randomuser

I think it’s actually the last scene from Nemesis.

Afterburn

Makes sense. I’ve seen that movie twice– in theaters at the time, and about 10 years later. No reason to ever watch it again.

Chancellor Gowron

He meant Nemesis. It was at the end of the movie, when he was saying goodbye to Captain River.

Afterburn

Ah yes Captain River :)

Chancellor Gowron

Captain of the Vitan.

Sybok's Other Brother
Athlan

“TNG reflected – I guess – a more innocent time. It was telling great stories and complicated stories and modern parables. But we live in a much, much more complicated and darker time now.”

I am most curious to know Alex Kurzman’s reasons for saying this. In what sense do we live in a “much […] darker time now”? I really fail to see that. What I can notice, however, is that the movies and TV shows are getting a lot darker recently – not counting The Orville and maybe the Marvel movies – but I really do not seem to be able to grasp why. What is _so_ dark in modern times that justifies this darkness, grittyness and sadness looming over movies and series these days?

I for one am absolutely not eager to see my favourite caption as a sad, bitter and morally broken man. The Images tend to leave me with that impression though. Why? Because it seems to be sexy to be sad nowadays.

I just don’t get it.

Denny C

Xenophobia, racism and fear are at levels this country hasn’t seen since the 1950s into the 1960s.. People are anxious, scared and disillusioned. These are the dark times Kurtzman is referring to. The Original Series was released at a time when people needed to see a better future, Picard seems to be offering the same.

Also, they didn’t indicate that Picard is morally broken. Disillusioned would seem to be a more accurate description of where he is in his life. Why that is we won’t know for sure until the series debuts.

Tiberius Mudd

“I am most curious to know Alex Kurzman’s reasons for saying this. In what sense do we live in a “much […] darker time now”? I really fail to see that.”

9/11

Everything goes back to that.

PEB

It’s more than that. We were not the same then as we are now. You can say social media and technology just allowed for sentiments that never went away to be spoken over a loud speaker so to speak (ha) but he has a very valid point. I mean jeez, we even live in a time where science and facts are openly questioned – that’s darker than the days of TNG in my opinion.

Chancellor Gowron

It rhymes with “grump.”

Marc Henson

The world continues to become darker all the time, more wars more hatred, more shootings, racism, terrorism…it’s actually biblical.

Bad things have always happened but not on the same scale as today…people’s attitudes have also changed a lot. What was considered unacceptable ten to twenty years ago is encouraged today.

Did you know that in the 20th century alone, more died because of wars than anyone else in recorded history. It’s the 21st century now, and things continue to get worse.

People continue to talk about ending world hunger but it continues to get even worse. There’s enough food to feed the world several times over but no man can achieve it because of greed or inability to distribute food properly.

Even grocery stores and restaurants throw jillions of dollars worth of food away. There’s child slavery, including prostitution, the dark web, where you can pay money to watch an assassin rape, murder, torture and do any other indescribable things to them.

Things are sooo much worse than they ever have been. But as for Picard, he’s not gonna be broken…he’ll be effected, but his resolve will remain the same. They never said they were going to change his morals.

Disinvited

Marc Henson,

You must not have been a very good student of world history, if you believe child slave labor and prostitution, snuff films, farmers destroying tons of perfectly edible produce in front of starving migrant laborers’ (Laborers who those selfsame farmers blatantly over advertised for the few positions they needed filled to keep their wage demands low.) children, is something new? And those things happened in the U.S. alone in the past has did the fact that its Civil War killed more people than all its other war dead in all the other wars in which it participated combined.

The River Temarc

“The world continues to become darker all the time, more wars more hatred, more shootings, racism, terrorism…it’s actually biblical.”

In point of fact, the number of wars, and casualities in war, declined precipitously after World War II (likely as an effect of the nuclear revolution) and has, essentially, continued to decline ever since.

See https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2016/04/15/the-decline-war-and-violence/lxhtEplvppt0Bz9kPphzkL/story.html.

I would read the “darker time” comment in the context that TNG’s best seasons coincided with end-of-the-Cold War euphoria, which has abated thanks to things like the rise of China, Russian revanchism, and Brexit.

Back to the Trek discussion.

Philk

Every generation thinks it’s the end of the world.
Look at news headlines from 1968, then take it back, and keep going back. It never gets better.
We had literal fascist governments and colonial powers mass murdering people on three continents at one time in the middle of the last century. A bit earlier in the US there was a real scare of a fascist takeover (hence novels like ‘It cant happen here’ reflecting such fears). In the century before that, American politicians were fighting real-life duels, while owning slaves.
More people died in wars in the 20th century because the population has increased dramatically. Based on percentage of the overall population affected and killed by war, the 30 years war in Europe in the 17th century was more devastating than WWII. Gengis Kahn killed more than 10% of the entire world population directly or indirectly. That would be like someone today killing everyone in the USA, twice.
Food insecurity/world hunger is lower now than it has ever been. In fact, it has almost halved in the last 20 years.
Life is better and safer now across the board than it has ever been. Sure, the media landscape has gotten darker and darker. Perhaps that is how you got fooled @Marc?

Afterburn

Even beyond Denny’s comment (which I agree with) even the most optimistic person these days has to admit that things were very different before 9/11.

ML31

I hearken back to what Dennis Miller said regarding 9/11. And I’m paraphrasing so no quotes. Things are different now? Things aren’t different. I hated insane foreign a$$holes on 9/10!

Wondering now if someone is going to misinterpret that to fit their personal opinion now…

Afterburn

Nice quote but it’s hollow. It’s not the hatred that makes things different. 9/11 changed the political landscape, foreign relations, our very culture here and abroad– it changed the fabric of our every day society on a fundamental level. Particularly in the USA, the world was a very different place in the 80s and 90s before a war was brought to our soil.

ML31

The quote rings VERY true. The hollow comment is truly claiming things have changed. Perhaps to people who had closed eyes it had. My day to day existence was really unaffected by any of that.

Disinvited

ML31,

Agreed.

It also amazes that so many of my fellow Americans, regularly recite the DEFENCE OF FORT MCHENRY in singing THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER but are completely oblivious to the fact that it commemorates a war that was brought to our soil in 1814 and resulted in the destruction of both the Whitehouse and the Capitol building in the burning and capture of our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.

Michael Hall

If you can’t see the assaults on democratic institutions, environmental devastation, and escalating tensions that are driving the current trend towards dark entertainment in popular media, I’m not sure what I can tell you.

Disinvited

Michael Hall,

But, you know, as a child of the 1950s, its all very familiar to me.

About the only significant difference, is that the AIs of its fiction are real, i.e. self-driving cars, self-piloted aircraft, etc. And for some reason countries and companies are planning to deploy them in the decision making chain, believing that they will somehow be smart enough to give them an edge over their competitors without getting smart enough to outsmart them too?

TG47

Disinvited, there was an optimism at the end of the Cold War and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall that was reflected in both politics and popular culture.

People in North America and Europe could believe in or buy into a better future and democratic empowerment.

I can see how people can look back on the 90s as a positive and optimistic time, particularly if they were in school and weren’t struggling with the recession and unemployment of the early 90s.

When my spouse and I sit down and reflect on the current situation, we’re saddened that our kids are facing the same fears of global destruction that we experienced as children of the Cold War.

Disinvited

TG47,

It saddens me too, but my history teachers did their job well and the pendulum swing didn’t entirely surprise me.

I will admit that I too had high TREK inspired hopes crushed in the Obama backlash, but being born and raised in the South, I knew better even as hoped.

TG47

I can’t say it was a surprising pendulum swing, but it came more quickly than expected.

I can buy in to the argument that 9/11 foreshortened a positive, aspirational period in the US, and this has had ripple effects globally through the channels of international relations, economics and popular culture.

Vulcan Soul

TG47, the two subsequent meddlings in Syria and Libya which largely fall on Obama/Hillary and caused waves of terrorism and so-called (illegal) “immigration” especially in Europe have a major part in this too, 9/11 and Iraq was just the turning point. People did not “succumb” to fear, but finally had enough of self-absorbed “elites” reaping the fruits of globalization while living standards and even life expectancy for the proletariate is falling. “Eat more cake” won’t do it any more!

And if Stewart thinks people just need “aspirational leaders” (presumably in Britain) because of selfishly choosing Brexit rather than EU-topia (ha!), he is also just seeing one part of the story from his comfortable ivory tower, for it was the inept leadership of the EU that has inflicted crisis upon crisis, misdecision upon misdecision upon Europe, all the while forcing people into a Soviet-style top-down integration they are clearly not ready for, that has not just caused Brexit but stoked anti-EU feelings all across that continent.

ML31

Funny. My spouse and I have felt for years that the world our teenager is heading into will certainly be better than the one we were brought into. Sure there will always be challenges and pitfalls. But overall, I feel pretty good for him and glade things are better.

Afterburn

Overall, yes, things are better, i’ll agree, but it would be wrong to say that everything is better– many things are worse (not accusing you of that claim though).

The River Temarc

Assuming for the sake of argument that Trump constitutes an “assault” on democratic institutions (which I more or less agree with, but is hardly a truistic statement), the trend towards “dark entertainment” pre-dated Trump. THE SOPRANOS began during the Clinton administration. Shows like BATTLESTAR GALACTICA took place during the Bush II administration. I would say 9/11 was the cause.

Trek in a Cafe

I think we live in a time that is scarier on a personal level because we have no privacy at home and when we seek respite it’s impossible to ignore that we have already degraded our environment to the point where we have to travel to the ends of the Earth to see real nature. The current political situation in the US amplifies all of that. Sadly, and much to my personal lament, as a lot of my work involves getting people to participate in their future, the easy answers are past us.

SDK

Simple. He’s a liberal democrat (or whatever progressive moniker he wants to call himself) and they all think we’re in dark times right now. As for why everything in Hollywood has been dark lately…I guess people like drama and suspense. I prefer the light-hearted stuff myself and it drives me nuts that I can’t find much of that these days. Maybe that’s why my favorite time period for TV/movies is the 50s/60s…and I’m a Millennial.

alphantrion

Interesting, this is the truth for me too, I love the 80’s Hollywood entertainment where Steven Spielberg’s Amblin ruled with an adventurous spirit. I think in entertainment and in life in general we lost this “Amblin Spirit” and lost our more adventurous, more courageous side and chose to side with one side or another just because it is easier and more convenient. Values have been degraded, people started labeling everything with “-isms” instead of just trying to sit down and talk with one another. Sometimes I feel like we need to revert to a simpler state of mind and just stop everything we are doing and just sit down and talk with people by looking straight in their eyes. Your mind and body can lie, but your eyes never lie.

ML31

I tend to agree. These times aren’t any “darker” than any other in my life time of over 50 years. In fact, the times of my birth seemed awfully volatile compared to today. Darker stories have been a trend for quite some time. Not just recently. So it feels disingenuous to me to constantly throw the “dark times” cliche out there when it just doesn’t seem like that is the case. Again, not saying things are all sunshine and unicorns. Just that things aren’t any worse than before. In fact, in many ways, things are better than decades ago.

khambattafan

“It’s going to be incredibly new yet fantastically familiar. It’s going to be hugely sweeping yet massively intimate. This will be the character you remember yet it won’t be at all. The tone will be dour and edgy yet buoyant and hopeful.” – Alex Kurtzman, every time he opens his mouth

And if you pre-order today, you get a free set of (Klingon) steak knives.

Afterburn

Your comment belies a certain disdain which is unwarranted. This is SDCC, a place for the producers and creators to hype their upcoming projects and make their case to their fans why they should tune in/go to the theater.

What did you expect Kurtzman to say? “Hey, I can’t say whether it’ll be any good, but we tried our best I guess, well Patrick did anyway, if you want to watch cool, but i totally understand if you don’t. It’s not for everyone, in fact most people will probably just think it’s okay.”

This is called promotion. It’s part of his job to make it sound as good as possible and pitch it to consumers like any other product.

Michael Hall

Cynicism is easy; comedy is hard.

TG47

When I look at the photos of Kurtzman on this panel, he looks like he’s beaming.

It looks like genuine delight, much more than on previous Trek panels.

Yes, he is there to promote the product because that’s part of his job description, but the effusiveness in this case comes across more as sincere than stressed, and a bit giddy.

Neill Stringer

Dark and Broody seems easy and lazy, being reflective and remembering why TNG is a beloved show and Picard is a much loved Captain would be fantastic.

After feeling let down by DSC’s writing I am excited for this now and I feel excitement for the first time in ages.

Afterburn

TOS was created in the midst of the civil rights movement and “make love not war” era, TNG was produced during the feel-good economic and political optimism of the late 80s and early 90s. Enterprise clearly tried to embrace the deepening hopelessness of the 00’s/early post 9/11 era with more complex moral quandaries and a sense of paranoia and militant political agendas.

Given the era we are in where left and right are further apart than ever before, with the left becoming more and more socialist, and the right becoming more and more totalitarian, with fights about destruction of the planet, xenophobia, terrorism, and human rights issues becoming daily topics on the news, a dark and brooding Trek seems completely justified, and dare I say it, appropriate.

That’s a nice read, but it doesn’t bear much examination in terms of the on-camera content that has produced thus far in the new era. Discovery has been dark and brooding, but to no end; there’s no unifying approach to it, it’s just a throw-crap-against-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks method, and very little has stuck. I’d be thrilled if the show were actually trying to take on the complexities of the day. It isn’t. Its biggest contribution to that sort of thing has been in the diverse casting, which is breaking no ground that Trek shouldn’t have broken two decades ago, and is breaking no ground that other modern shows haven’t broken in more bold and compelling a fashion. Trek looks like it’s trying to play catch-up in that regard.

The ways Discovery has reflected modern times most closely has been off-screen. First, by being produced by a company that is very interested in strip-mining its IP and is less interested in hiring an overseer who has an understanding and appreciation for what made that IP special in the first place. Second, by boasting a fandom that is so utterly divided that it can barely agree on anything, even the fundamentals.

THOSE things reflect these times. CBSAA’s Trek — which thus far is only Discovery — itself mostly does not.

But there’s still time for that to change. The SDCC panels made me optimistic that that might happen. (Especially on “Lower Decks.”)

Disinvited

Afterburn,

Given to hyperbole much?

In the US’ past, the left and right were so far apart that it destroyed a political party and they fought a Civil War. We, ain’t there, yet.

Afterburn

@Dis,
Oh please, give me a break, you’re going to dissect my comment to make sure i’m 100% historically accurate? You want me to compare to a situation some 175 years ago? Go have another one. You get the gist of what i’m saying, and if you want to be particular, think “during the 50-some years Trek has been around.” Groan.

@Bryant
It doesn’t seem like we’re watching the same show, so i’m afraid you have wheat cakes in your pants. That makes about as much sense as your blathering comment.

Disinvited

Afterburn,

Oh please, give us a break, there’s no dissecting; “ever before” simply includes 175 years ago much to your consternation. If you truly disdain looking up things that occurred before you came into existence, as you’ve indicated many times before, kindly stop dragging said past into your remarks and making ill-informed pronouncements about it.

Tiger2

I admit out of all the Trek panels they had on Saturday this is the only one I actually watched and you can feel the utter excitement in that room when Patrick Stewart came on that stage. Its still surreal this is all happening honestly. It hasn’t even been a year yet all of it was announced. I never had any doubt we would have a post-Nemesis show again, it was just a matter of when. But I never really thought we would see a return of TNG actors or any other actors in that era involved again and here we are. I would’ve loved to have been in that room when the trailer showed and seen the reactions the second the Borg, Seven and Data showed up. I was gasping at everything at home, I can’t imagine what it was like to be there with thousands of hardcore fans who probably been dreaming of stuff like this for over a decade.

This show has energized me in a way I haven’t felt in ages. I love Star Trek to its core and I consider ALL the shows and films my children, some are just better behaved. But hopefully this show will bring me back to why I fell in love with both Trek and this era in general.

Picard's dog

Does anyone know what happened to trekcore? It just has a log in pop up now.

J.S.

“he finally said yes. The actor noted it was partially due to a fear of missing out on what the creative team had in mind”

Universal Translator sez: “they gave me more money”

TG47

Oh please, Stewart is comfortably set financially by all reports.

He seems more at an age where he’s concerned about impact and legacy.

He was evidently frustrated by the narrowing of perspective demonstrated by Brexit, and was very much talking about the dream of a future in big Europe.

So, it seems that he feels he can make more of a mark through playing the aspirational character of Picard in an aspirational storyline.

J.S.

“comfortably set financially by all reports.”

You can still have two outcomes: either

1. one will work for little money (because they no longer care about acquiring more)

or

2. one will NOT work for little money (because they need a huge incentive)

(Obviously not saying you’re necessarily wrong)

Vulcan Soul

I’m impressed! “Lyrical” seems to be the right word. What’s more poetic, and philosophical, than a 95 year old character played by a 79 year old man musing: “I don’t want the game to end”?

TM11

Can someone explain to me why Beyer is still involved in the franchise? She’s the one that claims to know so much about canon yet she idiotically stated that you can’t say God on the show. Why is she still here?

Tiger2

Wow